Tuesday, July 18, 2006

pushed off the map

One aspect of the ongoing Middle East conflict is how the Palestinians are consistently conflated with that of the Lebanese, as if the two had the same goals beyond mutual enmity with Israel.

Consider for instance the way in which Palestinian refugees are treated (sort of like we talk about treating Mexican immigrants) in Lebanon. Unlike in neighboring countries of Jordan and Syria where Palestinians enjoy full civil rights, Lebanon denies access to public services including health care, education and the right to vote from Palestinian refugees within its borders, refugees who make up ten percent of the total population. Labor restrictions force them into menial and migrant professions like agriculture or construction, where they are paid a substandard wage. The poverty in Lebanese work camps is considered by UNRWA to be worse than that in Gaza, which is saying something. Consider also that since most Palestinians are Sunni, they will get little support beyond the political from Hezbollah, the Shia militants who really run the public services in Southern Lebanon.

Some Palestinian refugees are so destitute, some become rentboys on the streets of Beirut. These communities are slowly coming to terms with an increasing number of HIV infections which are passed back-and-forth between the clandestine gay community and the traditionalist straight community. Gay sex workers conceal their practices from medical staff, who themselves have very little chance to test the people most likely to be infected.

Even though we can all condemn the terror tactic of kidnapping, the Israeli strategy is unlikely to succeed given their track record with Hezbollah. Concerned citizens of the world should push for a well-trained multinational UN force with sufficient armanent to rid Lebanon of Iran's missiles. This putatively European force needs to be equipped with the authority (and personnel) to disarm hostile forces, authority not given to the UN forces previously stationed.

Oh and I don't want to hear about Republicans and their genius for national security/foreign policy anymore
"We need to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."
So, what's the plan then? Do we negotiate this time or just start bombing since we have nothing to offer that they want and they have every reason to piss everybody off? A complete misreading of the situation. Whatever sneaky bastard left that microphone open, they knew just how to hit Bush in the credibility. Putin must love being able to brush aside attention to human rights violations under his regime and his attempt to build a petroruble energy cartel with Iran and Venezuela without even breaking a sweat.

UPDATE: (via Andrew Sullivan)
Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of the public hanging of two gay teenage lovers in Mashad, Iran. It will also be an International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran. Groups large and small will hold vigils from as far afield as Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, London, Marseilles, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Sioux Falls, Stockholm, Tehran, Toronto, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw, Washington DC ... and Provincetown. The British House of Commons is holding a hearing. The underground Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization has asked us to support them as they live under a murderous, bigoted regime. Those of us lucky to live in free countries need to show these beleaguered people that we have not forgotten them, that their struggle for dignity and freedom is ours too.

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